How do we distinguish the angst and insecurities felt by most teenagers from the pain resulting from bullying? Does all teasing between kids warrant prohibition, or is there room for some joking and fooling around? When things clearly go too far, who should intervene?
Kids can be mean. Perhaps it's part of their exploration of boundaries and their power in social circles. As parents, we can teach our own kids the importance of kindness, respect and treating others as we want them to be treated. And, we can guide them to stand up to bullies.
In real life, your child's tormentor might be a 6-year-old girl sporting dimples and a laugh that peals like a church bell. And your child might not flee from her, but instead run into her arms for a hug, ready to play, hoping every time that it won't devolve into intimidation and hurt feelings.
My son is competitive, and he is certainly touchier than my daughter when it comes to criticism. He's identical to me. I wonder if the fight for his name is the source of his ambition. It certainly had something to do with mine.
How can you tell when a prank has gone too far and strayed into bullying territory? Are high jinks and teasing just a natural, innocuous part of life, or can poking fun at others do real, lasting harm?
Of all the reasons I've heard from people who oppose same-sex parenting, perhaps the most oft-repeated is that the child who will endure teasing about the comparative oddity of her family. As one person recently asked, "Did you ever think about the needs of the child?"